Katutura ratepayers threaten CoW with court action

Martin Endjala

Katutura Ratepayers, through their legal representative, Henry Shimutwikeni and Co. Inc., have threatened to take the City of Windhoek (CoW) to the High Court for alleged violations of the Local Authority Act.

In a letter dated 8 May, seen by the Windhoek Observer, the ratepayers have given CoW the right to respond to its demands before or on 24 May.

The ratepayers are accusing CoW of allegedly using the practice of estimating water usage as opposed to measuring and reading ratepayers’ actual water consumption, whose rates are currently set at N$47.18 per kilolitre for domestic usage as per the government gazette no. 7843 published on 1 July 2022.

“We demand that CoW shall cease with the estimation of water usage, correct the charging of interests which violates the Act, and terminate the unlawful agreement between CoW and Redfore Debt Management,” said Shimutwikeni.

Should CoW fail to comply with its demands, Shimutwikeni further warned that they would approach the High Court to seek an order declaring the decision and practice of CoW’s estimation of water usage to be contrary to LA Act mp 23 of 1992 and null and void.

Additionally, they are requesting an order from CoW to change the interest rate on outstanding amounts to comply with Section 30(1)(u) and (ii) of the Local Authority Act No. 23 of 1992.

As well as an order that the agreement between RedForce and CoW be declared contrary to the Procurement Act No. 15 of 2015 and the LA Act No. 23 of 1992 to be put aside.

The Katutura Residents Committee (KRC) spokesperson, Shaun Gariseb, told the Windhoek Observer on Wednesday that the residents are now ready to take CoW to court.

“Those councillors that protect maladministration, financial mismanagement, abuse of power, Redforce, and technocrats with their spirit of mammon will have to be held accountable,” he said.

This demand comes after the KRC handed over a petition on 15 April, demanding the termination of Redforce activities, among other things.

This was followed up by the CoW’s media briefing on 22 April to address concerns raised. Moses Matyayi, the City of Windhoek chief executive officer, explained that estimation has been a common practice by the CoW.

However, he reiterated that should any resident notice their water bill is too high, they should approach CoW for both parties to hop through such an account to see what happened, and such residents would be advised accordingly.

“CoW understands that estimation times may not be accurate, hence we introduced a self-reader initiative where the resident will be the one sending us their water consumption readings. But I must re-emphasise that this is to be done continuously without skipping, as this will defeat the purpose.

Unfortunately, we have witnessed a decline, and perhaps it’s a matter of again creating awareness among residents to make use of CoWs various services,” he said.

Meanwhile, CoW’s deputy mayor, Joseph Uapingene defended its agreement with RedForce, stating that it is a working formula for collecting its debts compared to its previous system.

They cited that divorcing RedForce would be catastrophic for CoW if not handled carefully.

Cow has not yet responded to the letter, despite being asked questions by this publication on Thursday.

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